By Raphael Garcia
The month of December is a time in MMA in which a number of competitors try to push their way into the forefront of conversation to close out the year. This year has been no exception, as fighters in the UFC have been jockeying for better positions in the rankings and along the pay scale each time they’ve stepped into the cage. One that has emerged as a fighter to watch is Tony Ferguson. After his performance at the Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale, he is clearly poised to make big moves in the lightweight division.
Ferguson’s fight with Edson Barboza last Friday night was the epitome of violence. Both men put so much power behind each shot and truly displayed their striking acumen. Even though it only lasted until the early second round, the action in this fight left fans pining for more, and anyone would love to see a rematch between the two based on skill alone. However, Ferguson’s submission win put him into position to move on to bigger opportunities within the division.
Eddie Alvarez vs. Anthony Pettis at UFC Fight Night 81 is the clear first choice. But how great of a challenge would Ferguson be for UFC Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor, who has has since stated an intention to move up to lightweight and challenge for the title there? That’s an outlandish idea that matchmakers should avoid at all costs, but if they did make such a ridiculous choice, imagine the potential and opportunity that would await Ferguson.
Stars are still hard to create in this sport. Many individuals have tried and failed to live up to the hype that they have brought into competition with them. Tony Ferguson is intent on reaching the pinnacle of this sport, and though he continued to collect wins at 155 pounds, his name went unmentioned in important conversations about the direction of the division. But now he can no longer be ignored, and 2016 may be the year that “El Cucuy” becomes another Ultimate Fighter winner to challenge for the belt.
TUF 22 Finale
• Tony Ferguson vs. Edson Barboza: Tony Ferguson def. Edson Barboza via submission (d’arce choke) at 2:54 of Round 2.
The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale: Edgar vs. Mendes took place on December 11, 2015 at Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, Nevada.